Trackside Tuesday: The Calm Before the Storm

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The second half of the 2012 MotoGP season generated a tale of sound and fury: Casey Stoner’s retirement, Valentino Rossi’s pending return to Yamaha, Dani Pedrosa’s late season charge to threaten for the premier-class title, and the coming of Marc Marquez to Repsol Honda, all seemed to add up to a 2013 that would make for one of the most interesting MotoGP seasons of the modern era.

But as the storm raged around him, Jorge Lorenzo got quietly down the the business of being a fast, and perhaps more importantly, consistent, points claiming machine, that fended off a revitalized Pedrosa and claimed the 2012 crown.

In Qatar, as we waited to see how Rossi would respond on the Yamaha, how Marquez would fare in the deep water, and if Dani could maintain his pace and determination from 2012, there didn’t seem much attention left for the new world champ as he began his title defense.

But as the photographers crowded around the left side of the Yamaha garage, on the right side the rider and team went steadily about their business. In an atmosphere difficult both for the track conditions and for the distractions generated by Rossi and Marquez, Lorenzo oozed quiet confidence.

I never saw a sign that he was overly concerned by his former and current teammate. He seemed content to rely on his greater experience and proven speed as he faced the pending threat of Marquez. He seemed somehow to have matured, to have grown-up, in the off-season.

One journalist said to me that if Lorenzo could pull off the oh-so-difficult defense of his 2012 title, and do so on the remarkable 2013 grid, it would be an epic world championship and one that would be difficult to top in the future.

But another perspective is this: if Lorenzo stays healthy and rides at his ability all season, and if someone manages to beat him to the 2013 title, that also will be a world championship of remarkable accomplishment. Much has been written of what Lorenzo has to deal with in 2013, but Rossi, Pedrosa, and Marquez may have the greatest challenge of all.

Scott Jones is a professional photographer who covers MotoGP and WSBK for racing industry clients as well as racing websites and publications in the U.S. and Europe. His online archive is available at Photo.GP, and you can find him on his blogTwitter, & Facebook.

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Photos: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved